Magistrate cautions police witness

By Kebba Jeffang

Magistrate Kijera of the Kanifing Magistrates court on Wednesday, 12th August, 2015 told the state witness in the ongoing case of Sheikh Cham, to be careful when obtaining cautionary statement from the accused person.

Mr. Cham, who alleges that he was tortured by personnel of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA), is accused of obstruction by the said agency.

When the case was called, the lawyer for the accused person, Modou Drammeh, informed the court that there was no voluntary witness present at the time when the accused person was signing the cautionary statement.

In response, Mr. Kebbeh, the witness,who is also the station officer of the DLEA office in Wellingara, told the court that he did not get an independent witness when the accused was asked to sign the cautionary statement simply because no one told him to he should do so.

The trial magistrate therefore advised the witness to be careful when obtaining cautionary statements from the accused person as a voluntary witness should be present. He warned the witness that he can get himself into trouble if that is how he works.

“You must follow the law. How come you don’t have a voluntary witness and you come to court. You can get yourself into trouble,” said the trial magistrate.

Kebbeh, the witness, however replied that it was late at night and they could not get an independent witness.

Earlier, during the cross examination, defence counsel Drammeh put it to the witness that his client only knew the people who arrested him the day after, but the witness replied in the negative.

The counsel for the accused added “in fact, it was his friend, Ismaila Jadama, who told him that it was the NDEA officers who arrested him (the accused), and furthermore it was also the officers who forced him to finger print the cautionary statement.”

The witness disagreed..

At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to 24th August, 2015 at 1pm.

Mr. Cham, a staff of SSHFC alleges that he was tortured by the officers of Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) upon his refusal to be searched by his arrestees for their failure to identify themselves as narcotic officers.

He was later arraigned and charged for ‘Obstruction.’

He however denied any wrong doing.